A man dressed half in military uniform and half in civilian clothes
11th December 2014

Back to Civvy Street

Back to Civvy Street: How can we better support individuals to lead successful civilian lives after a career in the UK Armed Forces?

In partnership with The Forces in Mind Trust


There have been numerous recent studies into the process of transition from Service life in the UK Armed Forces to civilian life. The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) published the Transition Mapping Study, and more recently Lord Ashcroft published the Veterans Transition Review, both of which identify that for many Service Leavers,

transition is a successful process. As the FiMT report suggests, ‘..around twenty thousand soldiers, sailors and airmen leave the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces each year. Many have had their lives enriched by their service, and they transition into civilian life, together with their families, without significant difficulty.

There is, however, a significant minority for whom transition and subsequent life chances are not as promising as they could be. There are considerable costs to these individuals, their families and society as a whole when transition and the subsequent pathway back in to civilian life is not as successful as it might be. A number of recurring themes emerge from many of the studies undertaken to date, including:

  • The significant but disparate level of support available to an individual during the transition process itself,
  • A widely held perception amongst the civilian population that many Service Leavers have ongoing physical, mental or emotional health needs as a result of their time in the Armed Forces,
  • The importance of planning early for the move back to civilian life and gaining access to the civilian labour market,
  • The need to appreciate the cultural differences between military and civilian life,
  • Development of stronger financial management skills, and
  • The role and importance of the family both in terms of their own needs but also in terms of supporting the Service Leaver as they move back to civilian life.

The aim of this consultation was to explore how we could better support Service Leavers to lead more successful and fulfilling lives after they have undergone the transition to civilian life, recognising that transition is just the first step towards life post the Armed Forces, and that support might be required for a number of years as the Service Leaver and his/her family integrate back into civilian life.

The full report can be read here.

A cl;ip art image of hands in the air.
13th October 2014

Changing Politics – Towards a New Democracy

In partnership with Political Studies Association

Over the last 20 years the nature of political engagement in British society has changed dramatically. There is substantial evidence of incrementally growing citizen disenchantment with politics both in terms of behaviour and attitudes. Observational, focus and survey data all point in the same direction.

Reform of politics has been a matter of public discourse for a decade and more. It is an issue of interest and concern to all the political parties although there is little agreement as to how to make such reform work. In fact there is little agreement on what the reforms should be. Our consultation proposed to look in depth at the matter and to work towards practical, forward-looking solutions.

To read the full report click here.

A crop being held in a farmers hand.
22nd July 2014

Attracting New Talent to Careers in Agriculture

The production of food from the land is fundamental to the wellbeing of society. As the global population increases, more food is needed but it must be produced in ways that make the best use of finite supplies of water and farmable land in the world; that consume less energy from fossil fuels, and limit emissions of greenhouse gases; and minimize stress on the natural environment. Add to this food safety and animal welfare and one begins to appreciate the complexity of the issues.

Attracting new talent to work in agriculture is and will continue to be a priority in the years ahead. Yet opinion polls and research show unwillingness among young people to pursue careers in agriculture. How might this problem be addressed? DEFRA’s recent Fursdon Report on The Future of Farming sets out a number of recommendations. Our consultation aimed to look in depth at these issues.

The full report can be read here.

An image of people spread across the world.
12th March 2014

The 21st Century Population Challenge

In partnership with Population Matters

The historically unprecedented rise in the number of people alive on Earth from 2.2 billion in 1946 to today’s 7 billion is in one sense a great success story.  Success in avoiding death, whether at the hands of predators (including microbes), malnutrition or other perils of being born is rightly a matter of celebration.  Though improved longevity is unevenly applied across the globe, the lifespan of even sub-Saharan Africans has improved.

By contrast, the story from the other end of the demographic equation is not so happy.  No Nobel Prizes have been won for stopping birth, not even for Carl Djerassi, inventor of the contraceptive pill.  Instead, the act of conception continues to stir up all sorts of prejudices and complexes – mostly amongst men – in most cultures, affecting leadership organisations: governments, religions, development banks and even UN family planning programmes, as well as how individual men behave to women, even in marriage.  As a result, women in too many places have little choice in when or how many children they conceive.

On top of squeamishness and worse around the mechanics of conception, is the now globally adopted notion that the only possible economic logic is one based on more people, consuming more ‘stuff’.  Thus, the bigger a population the better, with the downside of longevity (dependency) resolved through more people being born.

Among the questions the consultation aimed to cover were:

  • Working back from the ecological demographic transition proposed at the end of this piece, what key policy changes are needed?
  • Assuming one relates to the structure of the global economic system, what would shift it from a more people-consuming more logic to one that has fewer people-consuming less as its dynamic?
  • There are huge numbers of young (particularly men) in poor countries, who see little hope for their future. How to offer that hope in a way that removes the temptations of extreme violent and/or religious groups?
  • How to mobilise female leadership at all levels of society – in rich and poor countries – in a way that accelerates their ability to secure the destiny of their families into the longer term?
  • Are the current institutional arrangements (organisations and process) sufficient unto the challenge? If not, what should change, and how?
  • Although David Attenborough and Melinda Gates are gaining headlines, how to mainstream the public debate on population as a critical 21st century challenge? How to make it a normal policy area for rich and poor countries alike?

The full report can be read here.

The word success highlighted.
6th February 2014

Can Success Ever Be Defined?

In partnership with the Portman Group

Alcohol use and abuse, the impact of smoking, obesity, the legalisation or otherwise of drugs, these are just some aspects of contemporary life which tend to polarise opinions. The public battles between the health sector and the alcohol industry have been well-documented and despite much useful practical cooperation the chasm remains wide and perhaps always will do in a free society.

Rather than remain embedded in sterile arguments, have we reached a point where interested parties might consider what ‘success’ might look like from their individual perspectives; if so, can we set ‘targets’ of whatever description, the attainment of which might be collectively regarded as success? Or are we forever caught in the cycle of victory and defeat?

The full report can be read here.

An image of a soldier and poppies.
20th January 2014

World War I Revisited

In partnership with the War Studies Department, King’s College London and The Culture Capital Exchange

World War I had a seismic impact on Western civilisation and, indeed, across the world. Our consultation looked at the social, cultural, political and economic impact of the conflict. Taking a counterfactual approach we asked two related questions concerning the critical events of 1914 – might the war that year have developed differently (as in 1870 or 1940),

and what might our world have looked like had war not broken out at all?

As part of the consultation we used counterfactual techniques to explore possible variations from the historical strategic course of the war in 1914, and the development of the famous trench stalemate.  British, French and German officers engaged in a kriegsspiel of the crucial Western campaigns of August and September to explore whether a more decisive outcome might have occurred as in 1870 and 1940.

The full background paper can be read here.

Clip Art from the cover of the report for Social Capacity in the workplace
16th January 2014

Social Capital in the Workplace

In partnership with Herman Miller

The burgeoning global population can be viewed in one way as a success. Thanks to advances in a range of fields we are living longer. Yet such enhanced longevity brings with it certain pressures, not least in terms of sustainability, as more people implies greater pressure on resources. From energy to food supply and a number of points in between there is, as David Attenborough has pointed out no problem that is not made worse by a growing number of people. Our consultation explored what can be done about this.

To read the full report please click here.

A blog post from one of the participants can also be read here.

An image of a gavel.
10th January 2014

Is Judicial Independence Changing in a Changing World?

In partnership with the Constitution Unit at University College London

The Constitution Unit to brought together key institutional actors to explore a range of issues pertinent to judicial independence. The consultation looked at developments in the UK in a comparative context, with particular reference to Scotland, N. Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Europe, and Canada. Among the areas covered were: Judicial appointments, Managing the Courts, Judges and Parliament, and Judicial Input to Policy, all as a way of exploring the consultation title.

The full report can be read here.